I first heard of Art Tokens from Twitter and instantly knew I wanted to know more about them. Was it like National Book Tokens – the great scheme that allows you to buy a ‘gift certificate’ for book lovers?
I contacted them via Twitter and asked if they could do a Guest Blog to help enlighten myself and others on what ‘Art Tokens‘ were. Annie from Art Token accepted the invitation and the sent the following:
Art Tokens are ideal for locavores who are interested in art. Art Tokens let you give an art gift where the only taste you impose is that of your desire to support the arts. You buy Art Tokens, we send them, they choose a work that suits their preferences or décor. And as every artist has their location given, the lucky recipient of your Art Token gift can choose to go and meet an artist that lives near them and choose or commission a work.
We say it’s like a book token but for art.
The idea is that more money goes to support local artists and is recirculated in the local economy rather than being exported to other parts of the world. That’s why it’s for locavores (people who favour local products). And it saves you having the situation that we once had – we gave pictures to my late Father in Law on his remarriage only to find them still in their wrappings when he died.
We are still in the pilot stage at the moment – testing the site and the best ways to market the concept but the principles are clear. We are not a gallery – more a directory of artists who will accept Art Tokens. One of the issues we discussed at the start is that of quality of work. We don’t want to impose our own tastes so we accept any artist who can meet at least 2 of the membership criteria set out by the Scottish Artist Union. If artists don’t meet those criteria, we’ll look at their work before deciding to feature them.
And we know it’s likely that at least one party in the gift-giver /gift-recipient relationship won’t feel confident about buying art so we will be adding links to art talks, exhibitions and workshops where people can start to learn about art and what stimulates their own visual cortex. Blog articles will also help the newcomer to extend their knowledge and experience.
Looking to the future, we would like to work out how to franchise the site so can ensure maximum representation of artists around the UK (we are just in Scotland at present). We also need to do a list function for people who want to club together to buy a wedding or house warming gift. And rather than just feeling like a social enterprise, we might officially become one.